“American Idol” judge Paula Abdul, whose loopy, emotional critiques of contestants and on- and off-screen behavior brought singular appeal to the hit TV show, said she’s quitting after eight years.
“With sadness in my heart, I’ve decided not to return” to Fox’s singing contest, Abdul said in a posting Tuesday night on her Twitter account. “I’ll miss nurturing all the new talent, but most of all being a part of a show that I helped from day 1 become an international phenomenon.”
Her announcement came on the heels of her contract talks and one day after Fox said that Kara DioGuardi would return for a second season on the “American Idol” judging panel, which includes Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson.
The addition of Grammy-nominated songwriter DioGuardi last year raised questions about Abdul’s future on the show, which was based on the British series “Pop Idol.”
In a statement, Fox and the show’s producers said Abdul was “an important part of the ‘American Idol’ family over the last eight seasons and we are saddened that she has decided not to return to the show.”
They said she was “a tremendous talent” and wished her the best.
Abdul’s banter and bickering with the acerbic Cowell was as regular a part of “Idol” of off-key contestants, along with her shimmying behind the judges’ table when contestants sang upbeat songs.
Earlier this year, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly called Abdul “an integral part of the show.”
Despite a decline in its ratings, “American Idol” remains the No. 1-rated show and a money machine for Fox, its producers and for the record labels and singers like Carrie Underwood that have benefited from its star-making power. Removing any part of a familiar and winning TV formula can be risky and makes the show’s future an open question.
In July, Abdul told The Associated Press that she had been invited to stay with “Idol” as long as the show lasted and that she was optimistic that she’d be able to negotiate a new contract.
But the 47-year-old singer-dancer said the invitation to come back was subject to agreement on the details of a new deal.
Abdul began working with a new manager, David Sonenberg, in recent weeks, and he said last month that prospects for a deal looked dim.
“What I want to say most, is how much I appreciate the undying support and enormous love that you have showered upon me,” Abdul said to followers on Twitter in announcing her decision.
Abdul, a onetime-Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader who became an award-winning choreographer and singer, didn’t indicate her post-“Idol” career plans in her tweet.
DioGuardi didn’t slip smoothly into her new job. She endured eye rolls from Cowell over her comments and criticism of her judging abilities and long-winded, earnest style from viewers. She admitted to suffering nerves and worrying about fitting in.
But DioGuardi provided one of the season’s highlights: Her feud with Katrina “Bikini Girl” Darrell during the audition rounds, when the judge – a talented singer in her own right – told the scantily clad wannabe to bring a stripper pole next time.
Abdul, whom contestants regularly lauded for being warm and supportive, was unlikely to make such a cutting remark.
But she brought her own measure of interest to “Idol.” She appeared on camera with several maladies, including a manicure-induced infection and injuries sustained tripping over her dog. Abdul could be meandering in her remarks and was at times inordinately giggly.
In 2005, an ex-contestant claimed he and Abdul had an affair in 2003, which Abdul denied. Fox, which said it investigated the man’s claims, stood by her.
“American Idol” starts its ninth season in January.